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HQ 115680

June 24, 2002

VES 3-24:RR:IT:EC 115680 LLO


Mr. Arlen Molmen
7801 Miller Road 2
Houston, Texas 77049

RE: Coastwise Trade; 46 U.S.C. App. §883; 19 C.F.R. §4.0

Dear Mr. Molmen:

We received your letter dated May 17, 2002 outlining a specific scenario for transportation of limestone from a port with in the U.S. to the Gulf of Mexico, and inquiring as to its permissibility under the Jones Act.


In the scenario described, you state that your employer wants to load limestone in Houston or Mobile on a foreign-flagged vessel and then discharge the limestone on a pipeline in the Gulf of Mexico. You indicate that each time the vessel returns to load more limestone it would file a foreign clearance to the specific coordinates which would be outside port limits. You indicate that no shippers export declaration would be required since the limestone is not being exported to a specific country or consignee, per Bureau of Census.


Whether a foreign-flag vessel is permitted to transport merchandise from a coastwise point within the U.S. to the Gulf of Mexico under 46 U.S.C. App. §883.


Title 46 U.S.C. App. §883, often called the “Jones Act,” provides in part that no merchandise shall be transported between points in the U.S. embraced within the coastwise laws either directly or via foreign port, or for any part of the transportation, in any vessel other than a vessel built in and documented under the laws of the U.S. and owned by persons who are citizens of the U.S. (i.e. a coastwise qualified vessel).

All points within the territorial waters of the U.S. are subject to coastwise laws. The territorial waters of the U.S. are defined as the belt 3 nautical miles wide, adjacent to the coast of the U.S. and seaward of the territorial sea baseline.

It should be noted that 43 U.S.C. §1333(a) provides in pertinent part, that the laws of the U.S. are extended to “subsoil and seabeds of the Outer Continental Shelf land and to all artificial islands, and all installations and other devices permanently or temporarily attached to the seabed which may be erected thereon for the purpose of exploring for, developing, or producing resources therefromto the same extent as if the Outer Continental Shelf were an area of exclusive federal jurisdiction located within a state.”

In the scenario outlined, the vessel transporting the limestone from Houston or Mobile both of which constitute coastwise points, to a point in the Gulf of Mexico that is not a coastwise point, or to a point that constitutes the subsoil or seabed of the Outer Continental Shelf, does not engage in coastwise trade, and therefore may be foreign-flagged.


Vessels which transport cargo between a coastwise point, and a point that falls outside of:
the U.S. territorial waters; the subsoil and/or seabed of the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf; and which does not constitute a device or installation that is permanently or temporarily attached to the seabed of the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf,
do not engage in coastwise trade in violation of 46 U.S.C. App. §883, and therefore may be foreign-flagged.


Jeremy Baskin
Acting Chief
Entry Procedures and Carriers Branch

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